The Malcador Heavy Tank, Pt II

My brush with fame--my girlfriend just won the WarStore celebrity contest with her Mr. Rogers endorsement. The big downside is her Ork Waaagh --Freebooters uv Da Blak Purl-- just got some new reinforcements...

Anyway... back to the Malcador. All the basic sections were done on the tank. There was just one challenge left, but it was going to be very time-consuming. This is my only complaint with Jeff Vaughan's models. They are absolutely amazing in almost every respect, but...

He never does tread assemblies.

The templates have the two sides, but no instruction on how to put treads between them. There's a suggestion of how far apart they should be, but that's it. Sooooooo... you need to figure out one of the most visible elements of the tank on your own.

(This would also come back to haunt me months later when I tried to build his Baneblade model)

I ended up downloading every picture I could find of the Malcador off the Forge World website. I wanted to see just how the treads sat in relation to the sides. Did they line up? Extend past? How far past? As it turns out, the treads line up with part of the side (the top and sloping back edge) but extend past everywhere else. I decided to try making treads the same way they were done on the Mk I Land Raider. Those came out great, so... I'd hope for the best.

I won't bore you with how long it took me to get all the measurements or how I calculated them. Let's just skip to what you want to know-- how to make these things I'm going to call tread bases (because they're the base the tread is going to go on).

Measure out a couple long strips of cardboard strips. Vaughan suggests 7/16" wide. I pushed it to 1/2" because it's never bad for a tank to have a little more heft. Plus I wanted easier measurements when I got to the treads themselves. You probably want to go 1/4" past that to make tabs. You won't make notches for your tabs until you mark out the lengths of each section.

This Is Important--these measurements are in millimeters, because I wanted to be as accurate as possible and I didn't want to mess up dealing with fractional inches. So width is inches, length is millimeters.


So, from the top and moving forward, the tread bases need to be...

82 (the top)--20--7--50--122 (the bottom)--7--7--7--7--72 (the sloped back)

It worked really well to break the bases into two lengths. The first four sections fit into a 159mm length, the rest into 222mm.

Once these were set and scored I cut out the tab-notches I was going to need. I also did several dry-runs to make sure there weren't any overlaps, especially around the 7mm pieces which would be at tight folds.

I glued the bases to the inside section first. If there were going to be screw-ups, I wanted them happening on a simple piece, not the one with four layers of detail on it. I began with the top section. The 82mm length starts right at that back corner and goes flush along the top. Note that it's going to extend out past that raised ridge on the top. It got lined up glued, and clamped. Once it was dry I stared working my way forward, gluing and clamping each section. I eyeballed it to make sure the bases extended out the same distance from the sides all around.

Once that first tread base was done I did the second one. This time I started with the 72mm section, the sloped back. It was on top and it'd be more visible, so this one needed to but up against the 82mm top nice and clean. Then it was the same thing--line up, glue, clamp. Eyeball it the whole time to keep it even.

With the treads fastened to the inside section, I cut a few zig-zags for stability. They're just strips of cardboard 1/2" wide (the same width as the tread bases, that got folded back on themselves into consummate V's to make the treads more solid. Make sure they don't interfere with that big open space where the side sponson's going to go.

Now I glued the opposite tabs and lined up the detailed outside piece. I wrapped it in wax paper, checked two or three more times to make sure nothing had slipped, and stacked a few Stephen King hardcovers on top of it. Then I sat down and did all this again for the other set of treads.

Helpful Hint--In retrospect, there's one other thing I could've done that would've made for killer detail. I should've used a dime or the inside of a CD or something that would've given me some small circles I could cut out of card. These could've been at every fold of the tread base so you'd see "wheels" inside instead of the tabs for the tread bases (look at the sides of Mk I Land Raider as an example). If anyone else tries this, that's what I'd recommend. If I make another one of these (for Marc or myself) I'm going to try doing it that way.

So, the two sides were done, the hull was done, I could finally assemble these parts into something resembling a tank. I did few more eyeball measurements from the Forge World pics and made some pencil marks so I could line things up. The upper hull holds the center section pretty stable, so it wouldn't involve too much wrestling. I glued the tabs on the hull, got the sides right, then set the whole thing very carefully on its side and balanced another hardcover on it. Once this was dry, I had something that resembled a Malcador.

While it was drying I built the sponsons from DWGMAL 305. The central tube was more of the same piece I bought for the demolisher cannon. As you might notice, this is a delicate piece with very slight connections, so I decided to make it a bit more solid. I made a slight alteration to the templates...

Helpful Hint- rather than cutting out the inside of that rectangular frame for the sponsons, make an I-shaped cut instead. This will give you two flaps that fold back. The sides of the sponson can get glued to these and make the whole structure much more solid. The flaps may need to be trimmed a bit, but it'll be apparent where and how much once it's together.

The tube got trimmed, glued, and superglued. I wanted it rock-solid in there. Once these had dried, I glued them into the sides.

Now... back to the treads.

Here's how I did it. First cut some long strips of card that are 5/8" wide. Then cut this into (sorry again) 7mm lengths. Make about 200 or so of these.

When that's done, cut some more long strips that are 3/8" wide. These are going to be 5mm long. Cut another 200 or so of those.

Soooo... now you're legally blind.

I took the 7mm pieces and glued them to the tread bases. They should extend just over the base on either side (by 1/16") and they should have about 1/16" between them (you can use the edge of a spare piece as a spacer). I start at one of the 7mm tread base sections and worked out from there. This is another eyeball job, so take your time. Once it's done, give it a little time to dry and to give your eyes a break.

Now, take the 5mm pieces and glue one of them centered over the gaps between each 7mm section. You should have 1/8" on either side and about 1/16" between them again. As before, take your time. This is the most visual element of the tank.

Believe it or not... it's pretty much done at this point.

I had a spare front hatch from a Chimera hull which was almost a dead match for the one on the Malcador, so I filed down the ridges on the back and glued that on next to the demolisher cannon. I also had side hatches, which would've been a some more great detail. Alas (or perhaps, fortunately) I remembered at the last minute Marc was probably going to use this with his Traitor Guard army. A Chaos tank wouldn't have too many Imperial eagles on it. Of course, now I had nothing to put in its place. In retrospect, I could've cut a cardboard hatch and decorated it with a Chaos-font star (a process I shall describe in good time), but at the time nothing occurred to me, so the sides behind the sponson were bare. Really, there's a ton of tank bitz that would all be perfect for this.

Marc wanted to do the weapons himself, so that's the only thing not here. I mentioned the magnet for the turret in the last post, and it'd be pretty easy to put them in the sponsons.

I used some acrylic black paint to seal the edges (especially the edges of all those treads), let it dry overnight, and primed it first thing in the morning.

All credit to Jeff Vaughan for the parts that look good. I'll take the blame for anything that looks crude or clumsy. I'll throw up some more pics once Marc puts on his weapons and paints it.

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